Executive Perspectives

Forum speakers share their expertise with students

The Krannert Executive Forum has been a unique and valuable component of the School of Management since the course’s introduction in 1973 and features top-level executives and community leaders sharing their experiences with students.

The forum, which has been led for more than 15 years by Rick Cosier, dean emeritus and Leeds Professor of Management, is designed to provide opportunities for the exchange of ideas between students and leaders who have achieved high levels of success and recognition.

Here, we feature highlights from three alumni speakers in the spring 2015 installment of the Krannert Executive Forum. For information on current and future speakers, visit www.krannert.purdue.edu/events/exec-forum.

Cherly SneadCheryl Snead

Cheryl Snead (MSM ’88) earned her graduate degree through the Krannert Executive Education Program while employed at General Electric. She is now president and CEO of Banneker Industries, a provider of supply chain management solutions that she founded in 1991. She also serves on the WBENC Board of Directors and on the Board of Trustees of Bryant University.

Krannert Magazine: What brought you to Purdue and the Krannert School?

Cheryl Snead: I grew up in Massachusetts and went to University of Massachusetts Amherst. Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, was an alumnus and came to speak at our school while I was there. And that talk really exposed me to General Electric and the opportunities there, so when I graduated I took a job at GE. It was there that I was introduced to the Krannert Executive Education Program. You never know what will inspire people or shape their lives. Speaking to students gives me an opportunity to have that same effect on today’s students.

As for Krannert, it really is what prepared me for success in business. The faculty, the case-study style of learning and the teamwork educated me in a way that was very easy to translate into the business world.

KM: What experiences and advice do you share with students?

CS: I talk about three areas. One is my journey — I want to share the good, the bad and the ugly. I think what students need to hear is that most of us didn’t get to where we are because it was a perfect path: there have been obstacles and challenges, and in some cases we fail. As leaders, we need to be able to share those failures as well as the successes. Next, I talk about supply chain management. That’s what I do, and I see how it is a huge part of so many industries. Regardless of a student’s degree, understanding the supply chain will be critical in their career growth going forward. Lastly, I share my view on leadership — what it takes to be a leader and what it takes to continue as a leader in their careers once they graduate. I’m hoping it will give them food for thought and open their eyes to the possibility of careers in supply chain management.

KM: What do you enjoy most about returning to Purdue’s campus?

CS: I graduated in 1988 and when I first came back to speak in 2009, I was amazed by all the growth and progress I saw on campus. I’m excited to witness the continual improvement that’s occurred since. This institution never stops developing, whether it’s developing its faculty, its infrastructure or its teaching methods. I’m interested to know how the students have evolved and how their learning has evolved to include to online coursework, internships and studying abroad. I think I learn as much from the students as they might learn from me.

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